When a child has sleep problems, it affects everyone in the household. Children who don’t sleep well are cranky, defiant, and don’t do as well in school. In a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of parents responded that their children do not get the amount of sleep recommended for their age.
If your child is having sleep problems, it is important to step in and do what you can to help them. When you discover the root cause of your child’s sleep problems, it will be much easier to combat them.
1. Make a Calming Sleep Environment
According to this guide, making a proper sleep environment for a child is much the same as for an adult. Make sure the room is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the room has adequate shades: blackout shades may be necessary. Put clean sheets on the bed. Be careful if your child has sensitivities to fabric softeners or detergents, as eczema symptoms can negatively affect their sleep.
As much as possible, keep the child’s room clean and uncluttered. A bedroom should be a peaceful oasis where a child can take his or her mind off the problems of the day. Tripping over toys in the middle of the night disrupts a feeling of rest. Make sure there are no outside noises. You can run a white noise machine or a fan to cover up any household noises or those coming from outside.
2. Watch Out for Screens
Children who use too many electronic devices or watch too much television have a reduced quality of sleep. A University of Colorado meta-study surveyed many different studies of children’s sleep. 90% of these studies drew the conclusion that screen time negatively impacts sleep quality.
The blue light from electronics affects a child’s circadian rhythms and convinces their brains that it is time to be awake. Stimulating movies or television shows may disrupt sleep. Also, children may be sending and receiving messages in the middle of the night. The text tone or vibration may awaken them.
The easiest solution to this problem is to remove devices from the bedroom. Make sure your child charges his or her device somewhere other than the bedroom. Turn off all devices an hour before bedtime. This is good advice for adults as well. Adults’ brains are as vulnerable to blue light and stimulating content as their children.
3. Check for Underlying Health Issues
Certain health issues, like anxiety, stomach trouble, seasonal allergies, and headaches can prevent a child from sleeping well. When a child has trouble sleeping, if simple tips to improve the sleep environment haven’t helped, contact your child’s doctor for an exam. Your doctor may recommend a sleep medication such as melatonin or pediatric allergy relief.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
Having sugar and caffeine during the afternoon and evening can seriously impact a child’s sleep. Younger children should not have caffeine at all, and teens should avoid it after lunchtime. A child’s body is much more sensitive to caffeine than an adult’s, and even a little bit can keep them awake. Eliminate desserts after dinner, instead reserving sweet treats for earlier in the day. A high protein snack before bedtime will keep little tummies from rumbling in the night.
When you follow our four sleep tips, you will help your child get better quality sleep. This will help them get ahead in life and make them feel better during the day. Their behavior will improve, and they will be happier overall. Be sure to check with your doctor for any underlying health problems.